Poe Plays Favorites 2010 (The Awards Post)


Wow, am I late with this thing. Frankly the only reason I’m even doing it is to placate my obsessive-compulsiveness–there must be a PPF for every year, even if it takes me three months into the following year to do it.

[toc title=”Table of Contents” class=”toc-right”] Anyway, you know the drill–these are not at all what I consider the best toys from 2011. They’re simply my favorites. I find objectively trying to determine the “best” toy a fun but ultimately fruitless endeavour, destined to be argued over endlessly.

I’m sure this will be a largely surprise-free PPF for anyone who reads the blog with any regularity, so let’s just get it done.

For your edification, here are the earlier PPFs:

Favorite Action Figure Line

As I said, no surprises here. Masters of the Universe Classics (MOTUC) dominated my 2010, as it did for many collectors. Mattel upped the ante by adding large figures like Battle Cat and Tytus, as well as offering display stands, DC vs. MOTU 2-packs, and army builder 2-packs. The degree to which you liked these toys may vary, and obviously there were many, many problems with availability, but they represented an exciting ramping-up of the toyline–one that will continue this year with the addition of the Grayskull Weapons Rack and the vehicle, whatever it may be.

Why do I love MOTUC? It’s a bit hard to define how the line appeals to me. I love the large, chunky feel of the figures–they really do remind me of the toys I had as a kid. Unlike some collectors, the consciously retro styling of MOTUC appeals to me, in a way I imagine isn’t too different than those who collect the Galactic Hero/Super Hero Squad-style figures, or urban vinyls, or yes, even Mego figures.

If I could editorialize for a moment…I think there’s a tendency among some collectors to think that toylines need to become progressively more detailed, better articulated (though that’s often a point of debate), and often, more “realistic.” It’s a pattern seen in vintage MOTU to MOTU 200X, Secret Wars to early Toy Biz to Marvel Legends, and it’s something Hasbro has made a fortune off of, re-selling collectors the same Star Wars, GI. Joe, and Transformers characters in increasingly complex versions year after year.

And I’m no stranger to this idea, either. I loved MOTU 200X, but in retrospect I’ve come to realize that trying to make characters named Clawful, Two-Bad, and especially He-Man “badass” is something of an uphill battle. I find a certain joy in the way MOTUC embraces the obvious “toy-ness” of the characters.

Favorite Figure

Trap Jaw

Now, this one could be a bit of a surprise to you; there were a few other obvious candidates, particularly Battle Cat and Gygor. But Trap Jaw is the closest thing I have to a favorite MOTU character. Getting a new one with extra articulation, including a full range of motion on the robot arm’s shoulder, bicep, and elbow, was the fulfillment of a childhood dream.

Runners-up: Battle Cat, Gygor

Favorite Packaging

Scan by www.motucportal.com

DC vs. MOTU 2-Packs (Superman vs. He-Man, Lex Luthor vs. Skeletor)

This is always a hard category for me to do, mostly because I toss all my packaging and barely remember what any of it looked like. However, this year something did stand out: the DC vs. MOTU 2-packs. The sets made great use of the original Curt Swan art from those early DC one-shots, and for a while I even had the paper backing boards from behind the blisters tacked on my cubicle wall.

Favorite Review

Classic Predator

This one was tough. I don’t recall particularly enjoying any one review more than any other this past year. So, for no particular reason, I went Classic Predator.

Favorite Toy Website

2010 was a busy, somewhat tough year for me, and as such I didn’t spend nearly as much time browsing the Web as I used to. I did almost all my toy-related reading via Google Reader, and I have to say that there wasn’t one particular website I found myself visiting more than any other. I had my usual regular stops–He-Man.org, TNI–but they’re such mainstays it would seem odd to choose them.

However, there was one toy-oriented website who went through a big makeover and went from being outdated and obsolete to a fully-functioning blog: the Four Horsemen’s studio website. They now provide regular updates on the progress of their in-house toys, as well as keeping up with their Twitter account–all while crafting some of my favorite toys.

Favorite Pic of the Day

Crap, there are so many photos…why did I make this an award category?! Oh right, because it’s fun. Okay, wait here while I peruse 52 pages of photos.

OK, I’m back. The winner is:

T.M.N.T. by The_Guide

I love the colors and action in this pic, and the classy way it evokes the cartoon colors on the original-comic figures.

Least Favorite Figure

I hate having negative categories, but let’s face it–they’re often the most fun.

Of the figures I reviewed this year, my least favorite was Temple of the Serpent Conan. Not due to any flaws in the figure, mind you; I gave it 4 stars, which is what I think it deserves for what it is–a plastic statue. But due to its near-complete lack of articulation, it spent a mere two weeks on display before being permanently relegated to the toybox (if anyone wants to trade/buy him off me, feel free to shoot me an email).

Poester Award

Finally, there’s the Poester Award! A few weeks back, I had you vote for your favorite toy among the ones I reviewed this year. And the big winner is…

Battle Cat!

BC won with 20% of the vote, which was mostly a duel between BC and Trap Jaw (who got 16%). Third place was a three-way tie (at 5%) between She-Ra, the Outer Space Men Alpha Waves and Grizzlor, of all figures.

Comments now closed (24)

  • Poe: I loved MOTU 200X, but in retrospect I’ve come to realize that trying to make characters named Clawful, Two-Bad, and especially He-Man “badass” is something of an uphill battle.

    No offense, but this comment seems to me like saying that climbing Mt Everest is nearly impossible, AFTER Mt. Everest has already been climbed. The 4H Clawful and Two-Bad ARE badass—they proved it could be done. A name alone doesn't mean a character can't be badass. I mean, Gozer? Cat-Man? Robocop? Now a muppet-face and a goofy name, that’s another story.

    I’m willing to accept that a lot of people would rather have things look like what they had at an earlier age, rather than be altered. But I do believe that this is a nostalgia-driven desire. I mean if the original MOTU figures were as detailed as a NECA figure, then people would be up in arms if MOTUC wasn’t recreating all that detail. You’ll constantly hear people saying that so-and-so should have the same loin cloth as another figure because “that’s how it was in the original line.” Ok, so I get it. I bet there are a lot of people that wish Ford would release a classic Mustang that looks just like the original, instead of an updated take on the car. That’s nostalgia, and it’s a powerful force.

    What I do find odd though—and you’re entitled to feel however you wish, but I still find it odd—is how you invest so much into the “reality” of these characters. The names, the bio, the fact that Gygor has to be a good guy in your canon. But you still like your figures to be “toy-ish.” I mean, if the fun is creating the illusion that these characters are from their own world, with their own mythology, etc. wouldn’t you rather “forget” that they are toys rather than make it so obvious. If you have created some sort of Toy Story like mythology, then yeah, they’re toys living in your world, so it makes sense to me.

  • @Dead Man Walking: "No offense, but this comment seems to me like saying that climbing Mt Everest is nearly impossible, AFTER Mt. Everest has already been climbed. The 4H Clawful and Two-Bad ARE badass—they proved it could be done."

    I completely agree. The only thing I wish the 200X toys had is more articulation, like new 6 inch cartoon based ThunderCats toys will have. After articulation comes scale – that 4H initially envisioned but was later dropped by Mattel (again, something new Thunder cats toys will have). I guess Bandai listened and learned.

  • @Dead Man Walking:

    I bet there are a lot of people that wish Ford would release a classic Mustang that looks just like the original, instead of an updated take on the car. That’s nostalgia, and it’s a powerful force

    MOTUC is an updated version of MOTU. It has more detailed sculpting and more articulation, as well as wider character selection than even MOTU 200X. Where we're differing is in to what degree we want those figures updated.

    And when I say I enjoy the toyish-ness of the figures but think it's an uphill battle making them "badass," what I mean is I enjoy the world of MOTU for what (I think) it is–a Saturday-morning-cartoon world of fantasy. I don't want it to be as brutal or "realistic" as 300, and as I said, I'm not sure it can be (but stranger things have happened, so who knows).

    The "reality" I'm "investing" in is that Saturday-morning-cartoon world, much like the original MOTU cartoon, or something like Ben 10 or even Justice League Unlimited today. JLU's character designs weren't ultra-detailed and the figures weren't NECA-like–they were very clearly "toys"–yet that didn't at all detract from the fact that the show, and the toys, were great.

    And I have to reject the idea that preferring the original of something is automatically nostalgia. Inferior "updated" versions of earlier products come out all the time. Any number of Hollywood film remakes proves that. Sometimes things just worked the first time.

    Truth be told, I still think the original MOTU figures have something that both 200X and MOTUC lack. Something about that insane over-muscled physiology, especially on the original He-Man, has an iconic look that neither line was quite able to reproduce. There's a reason Robot Chicken uses the vintage figures and not the 200X or MOTUC figures for their skits–because that insane musculature is an indelible part of MOTU's pop culture appeal, just as the goofiness of Faker, Clawful, and Two-Bad is.

  • @Poe: "There’s a reason Robot Chicken uses the vintage figures and not the 200X or MOTUC figures for their skits–because that insane musculature is an indelible part of MOTU’s pop culture appeal, just as the goofiness of Faker, Clawful, and Two-Bad is."

    well, that and the fact that the vintage figs can be had for about 2 bucks a piece buying lots off ebay, vs 30 dollars per fig for a motuc.

    i have to say, i'm probably unsurprisngly with DMW on some of these points. while motuc is an update of the vintage, it's a step backwards from the millenium he-man in many regards. it has a few unique elements that make it unique, like broader character selection, but character selection falls by the wayside when some of the actual pieces suck (i'm looking directly at you, tytus… and megator to come) these kids of things, along w/ the hassle of ordering the figs, and the sometimes spotty QC keep this line from ever catching up to it's predecessors. hell, my vintage grizzlor has, TO DATE, not shed as much "fur" into my hands as my new one has… there's only a fixed amount of time to any toy, i get it, but my vintage one will outlast his "update" by a country mile, and that's just stupid. whatever affection nostalgia may buy me, mattel is working to disenfranchise me.

    does this stop you from loving motuc? of course not. you're obviously an adult, and so are all the folks buying motuc, and they make a choice every time they buy one. but let's get honest for a second, no matter how many times you drink the communion wine, it's wine, not blood. this line is nice, but it's far from perfect and it's not even desirable to a section of the motu fanbase who wanted toys in a more modern style that branched and evolved beyond the "shaved ape" aesthetic that motuc seems to strive for.

    we want ape to man dammit! 🙂 motuc is like watching neanderthal devolve into homo erectus again. homor erectus is fun, and he could survive… but he's not homo sapiens sapiens.

  • Nice choices. I especially like that ninja turtle pic of the day. Quality.

  • Hmmmmn.

    The "argument" above is actually about a false choice to me – we all have our likes and dislikes and while I too found the initial idea that MOTUC wasn't going to be a continuation of 200x disappointing (to say the least) the actual line has been a 4H produced butt-kicker. 200X was great, but objectively this has been better – for all the reasons stated….afterall I bought the first 2 years of it until Uncle Matty and his Evil Minion Digital Sewer screwed up my sub by blacklisting all my credit and debit cards for no reason that I've yet been able to get explained. They all still work right now with BBTS, HTS and anywhere else I use em so I think they just didn't like me or my money.

    Now, a 200x line done in exactly the same way would also have been just as awesome – and while I have absolutely no respect for the ethics of the Company nor their ability to meet basic Consumer satisfaction levels (sellings toys to the public really shouldn't be the pain in the ass that Matty makes it) it may well be that there really is a long-term plan for MOTUC along the lines of Hasbro's string-em-along redos policy that means a 200x line might be what comes next when, and if, the Classics line reaches the end.

    Then I can probably start buying them again. And He-fans will be left with the fact that if 200x is all there is going on at that time then surprise, surprise – it will probably still sell well and everyone will buy them just like they do now. The purism against updaters division will then be totally pointless.

    As to the awards….well much as I liked Trap-Jaw et al there were just a whole world of other figures that I enjoyed more ….MU THanos and Juggernaut, any number of Star Wars Figures, DCUC Martian Manhunter (yay!) the Halo Reach Noble 6 and the IM War Machine all impressed me more (to name but a few)and got a lot more play-time than Trappy and co. That's before I even think of mentioning those bankruptcy in a box figures from Hot-Toys that are putting me in the poor house.

    While I agree about the statue of Conan any award for the year that didn't mention the awfulness of those little Tron figures (Flynn the Blob – ugh!!!) hasn't been paying enough attention.

    YMMV as they say in other places….

  • My main problem with the MOTUC line is that the designs of the figures are often hampered by adhering too close to the vintage line. Although I sometimes really dig the nostalgia-driven designs of MOUTC, I'm often disappointed that they're not updated enough.

    For example, I thought that Skeletor was a great figure: close enough to the original figure to be nostalgic, but updated enough with cool sculpting and paint apps to be interesting. Scareglow was disappointing, though. The sculpt looked great, but since the paint apps weren't updated, the figure lost a lot of potential. It just seems like the influence of the vintage line on MOTUC often restricts it from innovation.

  • @Nathan: if i were going to call out a motuc fig, i'd start w/ zodak. there's no reason we couldn't have gotten helmeted and unhelmeted heads, and a staff that looks like the one he used in the show. it's precisely that kind of limitation that irks me. tri-klops could have received two harnesses, we could justify at least two instances of new buck introduction at this point (a large body buck for beast-man and grizzlor, and a slim body buck for webstor and the upcoming king hsss. and really, we should have gotten a teen buck that could have paired w/ female buck parts to yield a teenage adam… "vintage adam" is a gimme, that could have been done at any point to help profit margin when they started to dip. we could have received an orange faker mechanical sword in that last weapons pak too, but that's more personal taste than anything.) there's lot of things that, if they wanted to extend the lines' life, would have been easy solutions.

    scareglow's paint was what is was out of necessity to the character, if he wasn't a glowing skeleton dude, he's not scareglow. i don't really know what more you could have asked for… i know some people wanted more wash to bring out the skull features, but more wash means less glow. was there something else you had in mind?

  • @dayraven:

    we could justify at least two instances of new buck introduction at this point (a large body buck for beast-man and grizzlor, and a slim body buck for webstor and the upcoming king hsss. and really, we should have gotten a teen buck that could have paired w/ female buck parts to yield a teenage adam…

    I think the concept of this line has always been consistency of the aesthetic, as with the vintage line it is aping, and varying from that will hopefully not happen. One could certainly argue that New Adventures He-Man crapped out because the storyline changed too drastically, but I'll speak for myself and my friends when I point out that we hated the toys because they just didn't look like He-Man and we didn't want 'em.

  • @dayraven I was thinking more along the lines of a detailed, realistic-looking skeleton body. The paint apps of many of the MOTUC figures were updated to look more realistic, like He-Man's skin, Skeletor's skull, etc. But with Scareglow, they did almost the exact same skeleton design as the vintage figure. I thought it looked incongruous with the updated head sculpt and it was a missed opportunity to do something really cool with the concept.

    But I agree that the king of the nostalgia handicap is Zodac. There's a lot they could do with that figure to make it more interesting, but the adherence to the vintage line pretty much destroyed its potential.

  • @ Nathan:

    ah… yeah, i suppose that would have been cool for scareglow to go a tad more realistic… but there's only so much you can do over a body builder body to paint in the skeleton because you end up w/ luchador la parka.

    and yes, i liked vintage zodac, but even i was hoping they'd try something new w/ the motuc version… and they didn't. and then the repainted zodak got some new parts, but not nearly what we should have had to make that character either.

    tell me zodac wouldn't have been 1o times cooler if he'd come w/ the metron chair he had in the DC comic… and for 20 bucks, i think they could have made that happen.

  • Poe, I'm with you 100% on MOTUC. Love it, don't change a thing. And obviously a lot of people feel the same way, considering it's consistent success.

    @misterbigbo:

    Completely agree. I feel like this is commonly overlooked; consistency of aesthetic…I mean, if they're updating the vintage figures, why change the look of the line halfway? Then you just have a weirdly inconsistent collection…

    Plus, I thought the the Horsemen are going specifically off the cross-sell looks of these characters for the vintage updates. Why would they alter their formula?

    That said, I wish they hadn't stopped including 2k2 heads…that was oddly handled and unfortunate.

    Maybe after the line ends they'll do the "Pursuit of Cobra" version of MOTU and try a different, updated take on the characters.

  • Wow, if I wanted to read all about how everything MOTUC is more awesome than anything else, I'd go to He-man.org.

  • @ The Flash III:

    I'm sorry if the discussion went in a direction you don't approve of; if it makes you happier I'll second Poe's dislike of the Conan staction. I for one am trying to be more positive about my hobby.

  • This caught my attention, so I'm gonna take us back a bit:

    "when some of the actual pieces suck (i’m looking directly at you, tytus… and megator to come)"

    I find this statement utter hilarious in the context of 'MOTUC is a step backward from 200x in some ways' since Tytus and Megator look like they'd fit in WAY better with 200x than they do with MOTUC.

    In fact, if you just showed me those unarticulated pieces of anorexic garbage with no labels and as a lay person uninitiated into MOTU — I'd assume they were 200x figures, not MOTUC figures.

    Tytus and Megator actually perfectly represent a lot of the things that sucked wet donkey ass about the 200x toys.

  • @ KnightDamien:

    glad you find it funny, but i don't think the layperson could even identify the millenium line as he-man… and to some who does know the difference, the similarities to the motuc style are unmistakable… take for instance, symmetry. one of the things that defined the millenium style is asymmetric designs, so for example, guys have different armor bits and different detailing on each side of their bodies… T&M show design symmetry, more in line w/ motuc/vintage motu. i could go on, but there it is. trust me, they're VERY motuc when you break down the characteristics of each line.

  • @ Zach:

    It'd be great if they did a new POC style update for the MOTU figures.

  • @ misterbigbo:

    It's okay, this whole site's been obsessed with MOTUC over everything else for well over a year. You stay positive, though.

  • @ The Flash III:

    Yea I've come to terms with He-Ghostal.com, but I just wish I would have found a sister site with a similar style. Before I checked in with this site, I use to visit Super Articulated Guy dot-com. SOG was beast. But he soon quit and I had found my replacement, in Poe. Until well he quit DCUC. Oh my poor lonely soul…

  • You can't fault a guy for doing what he loves, can you?

    The essence of the "awards" are simply Poe's favorites from the toys he's reviewed over the year, and are not quite so democratically voted on like say Oafe's TOY or Michael Crawford's Poppies.

  • @ dayraven:

    'Trusting you' isn't really the issue. I have eyes with which to see. I can plainly see the very clear resemblance the giants have to the 2002 style of figure.

    When I say a layperson would identify it as one rather than the other – I mean that if you put 2002 He-Man next to MOTUC He-Man next to the giants — the giants clearly match the sculpting style of 2002 more closely; the musculature, even the exact points of articulation and style of the sculpt are EXTREMELY similar.

    Do the incorporate all the detailing like 2002 figures? Not really, no. But He-Man himself had very little in the way of extra 'details' aside from his ridiculous crotch-pouch, and even vintage He-Man has asymmetrical armour on his forearms – so symmetry isn't really an argument, as it implies all and only 2002 figures are asymmetrical (MOTUC MAA is also asymmetrical, to point a fact).

    In other words, the 'giants' should basically be two-ups of the standard MOTUC buck. But they're not. They feature the same artic as the 2002 figures, and a much different body type than the MOTUC figures (again, more in line with the 2002 figures).

    If you don't agree, that's perfectly fine.

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